The one question to ask yourself when it’s all too much

I have spoken at great lengths about not comparing yourself to others, but I have noticed it happening more and more as the pandemic/crisis teaching continues and teachers are burnt out. Teachers are struggling as their plates get fuller and support wains.

Although I only taught for a quarter of the pandemic, I taught during the great recession, budget cuts, and a school board takeover that had teachers fleeing the district I was in. I’ve been stretched so thin that I broke. I discuss tips for dealing with overwhelm and what to focus on when you are short on time.

There are lots of little tips and tricks to help you through stressful times in all of this. However, we are in different times, so ask yourself one question when it’s all too much.

What if I don’t?

As someone who is pretty type A, I ask myself this question all the time. What if I don’t serve on that committee? What if I don’t give this writing assignment? What if I don’t grade this stack of assignments? What if I don’t do that cool project?

It’s a pretty freeing question. Sometimes, the answer is NOTHING.

If I don’t serve on this committee, nothing will happen except more free time or time to do other things. People may be mad or upset, but they get over it quickly.

What if I don’t give this writing assignment? Students don’t get practice, but maybe there is another way for them to practice specific skills and allow you to assess without having a stack of grading.

What if I don’t grade this stack of assignments? Then you don’t. Stop staring at it or taking back and forth between work and home. All that does is create situations for guilt because it doesn’t get done. Maybe it’s time to rethink the assignments you give. It’s ok to reassess. I had to do this when I taught APUSH. I HATED grading vocabulary, so I decided we’d try other things, and it was so freeing. I stopped grading long essays too. 

What if I don’t do that cool project? You will have plenty of opportunities to do awesome projects, and they will be even better because you are doing it at a time where you are excited to do it, not because you have to.

Once you start asking that question, you realize a lot of the things you are doing or being asked to do take up your valuable time, patience, and peace.

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